Fiat is no longer a one-model (number) showroom. Joining the myriad of Cinquecento (500) models the Italian automaker has already brought to America, Fiat has revived its 124 Spider roadster just in time for the model’s 50th birthday.
The 2017 124 Spider did not get to America in a direct manner. The revival came from Alfa Romeo bowing out of its partnership agreement with Mazda for a shared North American roadster platform. Fiat picked up the ball and delivers the 124 Spider styling and powertrain with Mazda Miata roots.
There are three variants available for the new Fiat roadster – 124 Spider Classica (base), 124 Spider Lusso (luxury), and 124 Spider Abarth. We recently tested the Lusso model and despite receiving it with Old Man Winter bearing down on us, we were able to enjoy one day of fabulous top-down, classic roadster-style driving.
The base engine for the 124 Spider is Fiat’s 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine that puts 160hp and 184 lb. ft. torque to the rear wheels. That power arrives via a six-speed manual or, as our tester was equipped, six-speed automatic transmission. Abarth models get power boosted to 164hp along with some sportier mechanical components and choice of either gearbox.
As with the Mazda Miata, this new “Fiata” features a manual cloth convertible top that stows quickly and neatly behind the two-seat cockpit. The vehicle is tight and there is little storage space in the passenger compartment but as with the Mazda, Fiat offers a decent amount of room in the real trunk at the rear – space not affected whether the top is up or down.
Of course, driving with the top up makes for some large blind spots but with the top stowed this car is a breeze to operate. While I am not of very large stature I found it a bit difficult climbing in and out of the car when the top was up. When the top was down I felt almost like Spiderman getting in and out (pun intended).
Fiat has made certain its 124 Spider does not get confused with the new MX-5 Miata thanks to totally unique exterior and interior styling that pays homage to the heritage of the brand and the model. The roadsters may all be produced in Japan, but the Fiat 124 Spider was designed at Centro Stile in Turin, Italy. The infotainment system is about the only item that will look familiar when placing both the Fiat and Mazda roadsters side-by-side.
Some of the standard features found in all new 124 Spider models includes dual-tip exhaust, black roll bar finish, body color header, side sills, and door handles, halogen headlamps, LED tail lights, and insulation in the instrument panel, center tunnel, convertible top, rear trunk, and more to help reduce NVH. The base Classica model arrives with premium cloth seats while our Lusso model brings heated leather seating surfaces, leather steering wheel, touring suspension, front fog lamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels with three-season performance tires, and a host of other features.
Speaking of suspension, the 124 Spider rides on double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension connected to lightweight frame with balanced weight distribution to combine for a very dynamic driving experience. While our touring suspension was very comfortable around town it was still capable of providing very nice cornering capabilities when the road turned or twisted. The Fiat provided a very stable ride with easy and somewhat engaging steering and very good braking.
Some of the safety features found in the new 124 Spider include adaptive front headlamps, blind spot monitoring (a necessity with the top up), rear cross path detection (ditto), and ParkView rear backup camera. The infotainment system consists of the Fiat Connect 7.0 system with a 7-inch color touchscreen display and multimedia control, Bose premium 9-speaker sound system (including dual headrest speakers), and Bluetooth connectivity.
Pricing for the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider begins at $24,995 for the Classica model, $27,495 for Lusso, and $28,195 for Abarth. Our Lusso tester arrived with a final sticker of $31,335. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
The pairing of the little turbo motor and automatic gearbox in our tester proved to be a very good team. The little roadster was a blast to drive and had great power response throughout the powerband. Find yourself a nice twisty open road and great weather and get ready to enjoy 50 years of roadster heritage wrapped up in a modern, stylish package. Avanti tutta!